Why Does My Dog Leak Urine When Lying Down And What Can I Do About It?

Learn why your dog may leak urine when lying down and discover tips to address the issue. From incontinence to medical conditions, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind why your dog may be experiencing urine leakage when lying down and provide some helpful solutions to address this issue. We’ll discuss potential causes such as age-related incontinence, urinary tract infections, or underlying medical conditions. Additionally, we’ll cover steps you can take to manage and alleviate this problem, including diet adjustments, hygiene practices, and possible medical interventions. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of why your dog may be leaking urine and know how to best support their health and comfort.

Table of Contents

Understanding Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence refers to the inability to control urine leakage in dogs. This means that your dog may accidentally urinate or leak urine when they are not intending to. This can occur while they are asleep, lying down, or even during physical activity. It is important to note that urinary incontinence is different from behavioral marking, as it is not a deliberate act by the dog.

Causes of urinary incontinence in dogs

There are several factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence in dogs. One common cause is a weakened or relaxed bladder sphincter, which is responsible for holding urine in the bladder. Hormonal imbalances, such as a decrease in estrogen or testosterone levels, can also play a role in urinary incontinence.

Additionally, underlying health conditions such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or anatomical abnormalities may contribute to canine urinary incontinence. In some cases, certain medications can also lead to urine leakage.

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How common is urinary incontinence in dogs?

Urinary incontinence is more common in dogs than many pet owners realize. Studies have shown that up to 20% of dogs may experience urinary incontinence at some point in their lives. It is important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog is experiencing urinary incontinence, as early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve your dog’s quality of life.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence in dogs

Symptoms of urinary incontinence may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common signs to watch out for include:

  • Wetting the bed or sleeping area while lying down
  • Accidental urine leakage during physical activity or when standing up
  • Damp fur around the genital area
  • Frequency of urination
  • Urine dribbling or small puddles on the floor

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Differentiating Between Urinary Incontinence and Marking Behavior

What is marking behavior?

Marking behavior is a natural instinct for dogs, especially males, to leave a scent mark in their territory. It typically involves lifting their leg and urinating on vertical surfaces, such as trees or lamp posts. Unlike urinary incontinence, marking behavior is a deliberate act by the dog and is not related to bladder control issues.

How to differentiate between urinary incontinence and marking behavior

Differentiating between urinary incontinence and marking behavior can sometimes be challenging, as both can involve urine leakage. One way to distinguish between the two is to observe the circumstances in which the urine leakage occurs.

If your dog only leaks urine when lying down or during periods of relaxation, it is more likely to be urinary incontinence. On the other hand, if your dog is intentionally marking vertical surfaces or displaying other territorial behaviors, it may be marking behavior.

Are male and female dogs equally prone to urinary incontinence?

While both male and female dogs can experience urinary incontinence, it is more commonly seen in female dogs, especially those who have been spayed. Spaying can sometimes lead to a decrease in estrogen levels, which can weaken the bladder sphincter and increase the risk of urinary incontinence. However, male dogs can also develop urinary incontinence due to hormonal imbalances or other underlying health conditions.

Why Does My Dog Leak Urine When Lying Down And What Can I Do About It?

Common Breeds at Risk of Urinary Incontinence

Breeds with a higher incidence of urinary incontinence

Certain dog breeds are more prone to urinary incontinence than others. Some of the breeds that have a higher incidence of urinary incontinence include:

  • Boxers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • English Bulldogs
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Rottweilers
  • Welsh Corgis

While these breeds may have a higher risk, it is important to note that urinary incontinence can occur in dogs of any breed or mix.

Why certain breeds are more prone to urinary incontinence

The reason why certain breeds are more prone to urinary incontinence is still not fully understood. However, it is believed that genetics and breed-specific anatomical factors may contribute to the increased risk. For example, some breeds may have weaker bladder sphincters or higher levels of certain hormones that can increase the likelihood of urinary incontinence.

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Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Physical examination and medical history

When you bring your dog to the veterinarian for suspected urinary incontinence, they will start by conducting a physical examination and obtaining a detailed medical history. This will help rule out any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to the urinary incontinence.

During the physical examination, the veterinarian will check for any signs of infection, urinary stones, or anatomical abnormalities. They will also inquire about your dog’s urination habits and any changes you have noticed.

Urinalysis and urine culture

To further assess your dog’s urinary health, the veterinarian may recommend a urinalysis and urine culture. This involves collecting a urine sample from your dog and analyzing it for any signs of infection, blood, or other abnormalities.

A urine culture may also be performed to identify any bacterial infections that may be causing or contributing to the urinary incontinence.

Additional diagnostic tests for identifying underlying causes

In some cases, the veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests to identify any underlying causes of the urinary incontinence. These may include imaging tests, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, to visualize the urinary tract and identify any structural abnormalities or bladder stones.

They may also recommend blood tests to assess hormone levels or check for any other systemic conditions that may be contributing to the urinary incontinence.

Treating Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Conservative management options

In mild cases of urinary incontinence, conservative management options may be sufficient to manage the condition. This can include strategies such as:

  • Providing frequent bathroom breaks to prevent accidents
  • Using dog diapers or belly bands to prevent urine leakage
  • Ensuring proper hydration and a well-balanced diet
  • Adjusting the dog’s feeding and drinking schedule to prevent excessive urination

Medications for treating urinary incontinence

In more moderate to severe cases, medication may be necessary to manage urinary incontinence. These medications can help strengthen the bladder sphincter and improve bladder control. The most commonly prescribed medications for urinary incontinence in dogs are phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and hormone replacement therapy.

It is important to note that these medications may need to be continued long-term to maintain the desired effects.

Surgical interventions for severe cases

In certain severe cases of urinary incontinence, surgery may be recommended. Surgical interventions aim to correct any anatomical abnormalities that may be contributing to the urinary incontinence. This could involve procedures such as bladder reconstruction or the placement of an artificial urinary sphincter.

Surgery is typically reserved for cases that do not respond to other treatment options or when the underlying cause of the urinary incontinence can be surgically corrected.

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Preventing Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Spaying or neutering your dog

One way to potentially reduce the risk of urinary incontinence in dogs is through early spaying or neutering. Spaying female dogs before their first heat cycle may decrease the chances of developing urinary incontinence later in life. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to weigh the potential benefits and risks before making a decision.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Obesity can increase the risk of urinary incontinence in dogs. It is important to maintain a healthy weight for your dog through a balanced diet and regular exercise. This can help reduce the strain on the bladder and improve overall urinary health.

Avoiding certain medications that can exacerbate incontinence

Some medications, such as diuretics or certain hormonal treatments, can exacerbate urinary incontinence in dogs. It is important to discuss any potential side effects with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any new medications.

Managing Urine Leaks at Home

Using dog diapers or belly bands

Dog diapers or belly bands can be a useful tool for managing urine leaks at home. These specially designed garments can help contain any accidental urine leakage, keeping your dog comfortable and your home clean.

It is important to choose the right size and fit for your dog to ensure maximum effectiveness. Regular changing and cleaning of the diapers or belly bands is also necessary to maintain proper hygiene.

Frequent bathroom breaks and proper hygiene practices

Providing your dog with frequent bathroom breaks can help prevent accidents and minimize urine leakage. Taking them out regularly and encouraging them to empty their bladder can reduce the likelihood of accidents indoors.

Additionally, maintaining proper hygiene practices, such as regularly cleaning your dog’s genital area and bedding, can help prevent infections and discomfort.

Protecting furniture and bedding

To protect your furniture and bedding from urine leaks, consider using waterproof covers or blankets. These can be easily cleaned or replaced as needed, keeping your home clean and odor-free.

Consulting with a Veterinarian

When to seek veterinary advice

If you suspect that your dog is experiencing urinary incontinence, it is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your dog’s quality of life and prevent any potential complications associated with urinary incontinence.

What information to provide your veterinarian

When consulting with a veterinarian, it is important to provide them with accurate and detailed information about your dog’s symptoms, behavior, and any changes you have noticed. This will help the veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Choosing the right veterinary specialist

In some cases, your regular veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary specialist for further evaluation and treatment. These specialists, such as veterinary internal medicine or veterinary surgery, have specialized knowledge and experience in managing urinary incontinence in dogs.

Living with a Dog with Urinary Incontinence

Maintaining patience and understanding

Living with a dog with urinary incontinence may require patience and understanding. Accidents can happen despite your best efforts, and it is important to remember that it is not your dog’s fault. Remaining patient and providing reassurance to your dog can help them feel more comfortable and secure.

Creating a safe and comfortable environment for your dog

Creating a safe and comfortable environment for your dog is essential when dealing with urinary incontinence. Provide them with easy access to bathroom areas, ensure their bedding is clean and dry, and consider using dog diapers or belly bands to manage urine leakage.

Establishing a consistent routine

Establishing a consistent routine can help your dog feel more secure and may minimize accidents. Stick to regular feeding, bathroom, and exercise schedules to promote bladder control and reduce the risk of urine leaks.


Understanding the causes and management options for canine urinary incontinence is crucial for providing the necessary support and care for dogs experiencing urine leakage. Remember to seek professional guidance from a veterinarian to ensure the best possible outcome for your dog. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can help your furry friend lead a comfortable and happy life.